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James Shaw's speech in response to Christchurch mosque terror attacks

Salaam alaikum. On Saturday, I accompanied the Prime Minister to Christchurch. The moment that affected me the most was our visit to the makeshift community centre at a Hagley Park school where many hundreds of bereaved and grieving family members had gathered. When the Prime Minister said to those families, in her remarks yesterday, "We cannot know your grief", she spoke for me also. I have no words to describe the quantum of grief that was present in that school hall. The breadth and the depth of the pain and the loss are simply unimaginable to me. All I can do—as the Prime Minister also said yesterday—is to offer to walk with you at every stage.

So I want to say to those families, that you are in our hearts and in our thoughts. We stand with you in love and support. We also stand with you in defiance of this act of senseless and cowardly violence where a deluded mass murderer thinks that he's proven himself in some way by taking the lives of innocent children and defenceless people at worship. All that has been proven is that he and his evil philosophy do not belong here. We, as New Zealanders, stand with our Muslim friends, who do belong here. This will not divide us. We will honour those who have been taken from us.

The attacks are motivated by racism and by hate and by fear of people's differences. Some may judge us, as a nation, by this hateful act. New Zealand Muslim leader Dr Anwar Ghani says that he believes that we will come out of this stronger together and create a legacy that will be an example to the rest of the world. Dr Ghani believes that we can be a better nation and a better people. Yesterday, historian Dame Anne Salmond called out all forms of hatred, contempt, injustice, and inequality, and called on all of us to challenge that dark underbelly wherever we see it. She said we need to find better ways of being Kiwi.

It was only a few years ago that the children of Somalian refugees were beaten with baseball bats in Berhampore. Jewish synagogues and cemeteries have been attacked a number of times, and still face that threat today. Indian dairy owners report that the people who rob them often lace their language with racist slurs.

The party that Marama Davidson and I lead holds the practice of non-violence as one of our core charter values, and the practice of non-violence is not just the absence of physical violence; the practice of non-violence is to uphold and to enhance the humanity and the dignity of those who are different from ourselves. It is not merely tolerance; it is inclusion. So when our Muslim sisters and brothers, our refugee and our migrant communities can feel not just safe from physical violence and verbal abuse, when they can say not just that they live here but that this is their home, when they can say not just that they are not discriminated against any longer but that they are loved—not just tolerated but included—then we will be a better country, and we will have found better ways of being Kiwi. And, on that day, we will have defeated not just this terrorist who came to our shores to commit Friday's act of mass murder but also all of his ilk.

The Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr said that non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the person who wields it. Let the tragedy of Christchurch never be forgotten. Let its legacy be the call to stand for peace and love and inclusion.